This is GM Neal Huntington’s 10th trade deadline with the Pittsburgh Pirates. From the good, the bad and the ugly, let’s recap the previous nine as this year’s deadline looms closer.
Today, we’ll take a look at the deals made by the Pittsburgh Pirates’ GM in 2014.
The 2014 and 2017 Pittsburgh Pirates are very similar.
Both teams started the season off slow before heating up in June and July. Back in 2014, the club sat at 57-51 on deadline day, 2.5 games out of first place. Like 2013, the thinking was that a big trade may be what propels them into the playoffs. They needed pitching, and there was some to be had.
So let’s not waste any time. Here is an in depth summary of the moves made at the 2014 deadline:
So there’s the summary
One of Huntington’s favorite soundbites in interviews about the trade deadline is that he is looking for the Pirates to add for a seventh consecutive season. That isn’t exactly true. While the Pirates did eventually pick up John Axford off the waiver wire and traded Jason Grilli for Ernesto Frieri, neither one was a significant addition. They rolled on with what they had without making a trade.
Lester’s market was sky high, but Ken Rosenthal and Jeff Passan insisted the Pirates were in the entire time. According to them, the talks started around Josh Bell. The Red Sox eventually escalated to demanding Starling Marte. That was obviously too much for 10 or 11 starts of Lester, so the Pirates started to look elsewhere. Lester was eventually dealt to Oakland in a deal centered around Yoenis Cespedes.
Teams did not know if Price was going to be available until July 31 since the Rays were on the cusp of being competitive as well. Huntington pushed hard to get Price, obviously tempted by his extra year of team control. According to Peter Gammons, the Pirates’ offer for Price was better than the one the Rays accepted. The problem was it was centered around prospects, and the Rays wanted major leaguers. We can assume some combination of Bell, Tyler Glasnow, Jameson Taillon, Alen Hanson or others were involved. The Rays instead opted for Nick Franklin and Drew Smyly, shipping Price to Detroit.
Would a Price or Lester have made a difference for the Pirates in the wild card game? Maybe. The Athletics went all-in to land Lester, and he couldn’t get the job done against Kansas City in the one-game playoff. They probably would not have been able to hang with Madison Bumgarner that day.
One of the two starters might have meant the difference for the division, though. The Pirates took the chase for the Central all the way to the last day of the season. Starting an undisputed ace 11 times instead of Jeff Locke or Vance Worley could have been enough for them to skip the do or die game.
Overall, the 2014 Pittsburgh Pirates were not built to be a “win-now” team. Going all-in on a trade like one of these would have been cool, but very short-sighted. They also had more problems than just one starter. The market was loopy that year, and Huntington backed off rather than risk getting burned.
The trade landscape stabilized again in 2015, valuing prospects at the normal going rate. Huntington would end up having his best trade deadline to date.